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Sometimes I get these crazy ideas, and I keep thinking about it and planning until the crazy idea becomes an actual thing. Cruising around Pinterest, I was looking for storage ideas; I had all these bottles of essential oils and nowhere to put them, except a tiny little plastic box I’d picked up at our favorite discount store. As I looked around, I saw one particular Pin that caught my interest; it was a vintage suitcase turned medicine cabinet. And that’s how it all began for my DIY vintage suitcase cabinet…
I made a trip to my local antique store, where I looked for a suitcase that would fit the bill. It needed to be a flat sided suitcase, be in good shape, sturdy, not falling apart. I picked one up for around $20.
So, how do you create a cabinet from a suitcase, you ask? It’s really not hard at all, though this was one project that I wasn’t sure how to create or where to even begin. I had the idea and the inspiration for this project, and Dan helped me bring the idea to fruition. Together we built the cabinet and worked up a how-to, so you can make your own.
Supplies You’ll Need
1 – 1x4x8 board
1 – 1x2x8 board
4 – L brackets and screws
Drywall anchors, if needed
Nails or screws to lock shelves in place
DIY Vintage Suitcase Cabinet Instructions
First you’ll need to decide how many shelves you want. We divided evenly and decided on 3 shelves, based on the bottle height of my oils; it really will depend on what you intend to store in your cabinet.
Cut vertical boards to the inside length of your suitcase.
Lay out marking for shelves on vertical boards on the thinner side. We marked centers and 3/8″ on each side of center so we knew how wide to cut. Our boards were 20″ with a 5″ shelf height… 3 shelves on 5″ centers.
Next you’ll need to mark halfway down on the wide side of the board underneath the shelf markings you made in the previous step. This is the line you will cut down to, to allow the shelf to slide in. Cut it slowly as you want the shelf to fit tightly. You can use a miter saw or a hand saw and hammer and chisel. You can even use a table saw.
After your cuts are made on the vertical boards you will want to cut your shelves (they need to be cut to fit inside the suitcase) the same way you did above for the vertical boards. We made the center section of the shelves wider for aesthetics only. You can lay this out however you want. Again take your time cutting as you want things to be tight.
Now that you have your first cuts made, fit everything together as a dry fit to make sure everything will line up. If you’re satisfied with the fit, you can use a nail gun, screws or just glue to tack and hold the shelves in place. We used a nail gun and put a couple nails through the vertical board into each shelf at an angle to hide the nails.
To make the oil bottles easier to see and not have them all crowded together where I couldn’t even see the labels, we added another 3/4″ riser on the rear of the shelf. You can cut these to fit and tack them into place however you see fit.
If everything is cut and fits together correctly, you’ll have a sturdy shelf that fits inside the suitcase. Next you’ll want to screw through the back of the suitcase into the back of the shelves to hold the shelf in the suitcase and provide support for mounting.
The final step is to provide a mounting surface. We chose an L bracket and attached four of them to the vertical board below the top and bottom shelves on each side. This will support it well enough on any wall. Then using the L brackets, screw it into your wall. Either screw into a stud, or use drywall anchors. (It would be wise to watch for electrical wires. Most stud sensors will alert if there is electricity in the area you are mounting. Just be careful.)
Once you have the suitcase hung, you can decorate it to your heart’s desire and store whatever you had in mind. I’m actually filling mine with essential oils. We hung the cabinet in the living room, so it’s easy to access at any time. The bottles are also supposed to be stored in a darker place, away from sunlight, so this works really well. I’ve thought about using Mod Podge to decorate the front with some sort of design, but I haven’t figured out just what design, if any, I want to make yet… I may even cover the front with fabric. Who knows? So, for now, it’s just a vintage suitcase cabinet in all its untouched glory. I kinda love it just the way it is.
Looking for more thrifty DIY project inspiration?
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